Game day had arrived, and there was no other Ohio State-Michigan matchup better than this one! With the entire season riding on this one match, I couldn’t imagine a single place I would rather be than in section 9A, row 13, seat 11 in the Shoe. I had waited all season to attend this rivalry but never imagined it would boil down to a number one, number two matchup like this. The anticipation for this game was agonizing and exhilarating at the same time.
Before Ohio State football games, it’s a ritual that my friends and I get to campus hours before the game to spend time walking around , pushing through the scarlet and gray crowds, snatching food from random tailgate parties, and participating in the Ohio State fan events scattered around the Shoe. The wind was bitter cold and the early drinkers spilling beer on my Ohio State jacket made me cringe, but all of that would be forgotten as the growing enthusiasm and energetic vibes coming from surrounding Buckeye fans throughout the campus overwhelmed me.
After what seemed like an eternity cruising around the Shoe, the eagerness to find my seat had finally gotten to me. It was time to enter the Shoe for that last game of the 2006 season. Little did I know this would this be the greatest college football game I would ever witness. As I sat anxiously in my seat waiting for the opening kickoff, my eyes wandered the stadium in amazement at how many fans were here to cheer on their favorite Buckeyes. It was a sea of enthusiastic OSU fans decked out in their team apparel ready to scream their hearts out. As the last few minutes of the countdown ticked off on the massive scoreboard, I couldn’t find a single empty seat in the entire stadium. I had never seen the Shoe this packed with this much energy before!
The countdown had reached zero and everyone was on their feet waiting for the teams to run onto the battlefield. Within seconds the entire stadium, myself included, exploded with “BOOO!!!!” as the Maize and Blue stormed on the field, dancing around and taunting the Buckeye fans. Then, led by quarterback Troy Smith, the Mighty Buckeyes came blazing through their tunnel and driving onto the field. The Shoe erupting like a volcano, the blare of the crowd and the band sent chills down my spine and goose bumps up my arms. I had never heard the Buckeye nation get this loud before. I bet fans miles away could hear the roar that poured out of the Shoe.
This was it. The kickoff that millions of fans around the world have waited for was finally here. My lungs were already exhausted from all the yelling before the opening kick, but the following four quarters would be nothing but earsplitting cries from every Ohio State fan. After every completion, turnover, and touchdown, the mood of the Buckeye nation shifted. Ohio State was able to hold Michigan scoreless for quite some time, but it wasn’t long before the Wolverine standout offense powered their way into the end zone, causing panic in surrounding Buckeye fans. Troy Smith was able hold his composure and stun the nation with his outstanding agility and athleticism, throwing incredible touchdown passes to Tedd Ginn Jr. and Brian Robiskie. Temporarily at least, the crowd breathed a sigh of relief as we entered halftime with the Buckeyes up 28-14.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the Wolverine offense to find their second wind, putting up two more touchdowns in the second half. After some aggressive running from Ohio State’s Antonio Pittman and Chris “Beanie” Wells, the Bucks found themselves late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. I could barely watch. The Buckeyes controlled the entire game until the fourth quarter. The excitement and thrill in the Shoe escalated with every snap of the ball. As the clock slowly approached 0:00, everybody in the Shoe was on their feet, knowing that each play could make or break the game! Excitement and apprehension rushed through my body. This was it. Everything both teams had trained for all year long came down to this one last play. Ohio State’s defense was faced with the difficult task of shutting down the powerful Michigan offense for the last time. A perfect 13-0 season lay in wait for the Buckeyes.
Fourth down with just seconds to go, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne drops back to throw his last pass of the game. My hands clenched my hair as I watched Henne’s pass sail deep over Ohio State defenders towards the end zone. My heart was pounding! Would Manningham come down with it for a touchdown to spoil the Buckeyes’ perfect season? No! It’s an incompletion!! My hands shot up in the air as I gave out a triumphant shriek. The field bled scarlet and gray as fans poured out onto the field to soak up the glorious victory.
I couldn’t believe this remarkable game had come to an end so fast but I couldn’t have been any more satisfied with the battle or the outcome. I looked up at the scoreboard and took a mental image that I’ll never forget: Ohio State: 42 –Michigan: 39. It will forever be branded in my mind. My heart was pounding with excitement as I rushed the field with the rest of the celebrating Buckeyes. I reached down tearing my hands into the Ohio State end zone, ripping up a chunk of turf for a souvenir of this game I will never forget. The grass was planted in my front yard where I will see it every day and remember the mind-blowing victory of the great and mighty, the number one team in the nation: the Ohio State Buckeyes.